NASHVILLE, TN (February 21, 2023) – The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) proudly announced today a new partnership to launch, sustain and support “OnRamp,” a guaranteed income program for 20 young, Black members of the music community, including artists and industry professionals, in Nashville, Tennessee. The OnRamp program, focused on improving inclusivity and equity within Music City, aims to empower the next generation of leaders in the early stages of their careers by granting access to professional development opportunities, community mentorship, and other opportunities to increase personal growth, industry exposure, exclusive Academy membership panels and tentpole live events, and visibility with Academy Board members and industry leaders. Additionally, through the program, each participant will receive a $1,000 monthly stipend for one year.
OnRamp applications will be available starting in late Spring with the program starting in June, in celebration of Black Music Month and to commemorate the Black Music Action Coalition’s third anniversary. Interested candidates can visit acmcountry.com/onramp today to sign up for email notifications when applications are rolled out.
“It speaks volumes for the Black Music Action Coalition and the Academy of Country Music to join forces to launch a guaranteed income program in Nashville for emerging Black artists and young professionals. I applaud Damon Whiteside, the ACM Board and the Level Up team for sharing our vision and becoming true partners with BMAC on a direct impact solution that will begin to address long standing racial inequalities that exist in this country,” said Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-founder/co-chair Black Music Action Coalition.
“The Academy has a rich history of fostering diversity and inclusion in the Country Music industry both on stage and behind-the-scenes, and we see this partnership as a particularly impactful way to continue our committed work to making the statement ‘Country Music is for Everyone’ a true reality,” said ACM CEO Damon Whiteside. “We’re excited to work with BMAC on this pivotal and transformative work for our Nashville community by increasing opportunities for young professionals from diverse backgrounds in our industry.”
“When the Academy created the LEVel Up rising leaders program, we asked them to find the most meaningful and impactful ways to welcome people into country music, regardless of who or where they are,” said Board Chair Chuck Aly. “The Academy is proud to support OnRamp and we call on our industry friends and partners to join us in advancing this endeavor and working toward a broader, more successful and more diverse country music business.”
“I’ve seen firsthand over the past year the commitment and passion of the ACM LEVel Up rising leaders cohort, and I commend the Academy and BMAC for coming together on this exciting new program,” said ACM DEI Task Force Chair and ACM Board Member Shannon Sanders. “It’s my pleasure to stand alongside other industry leaders to support this important program, especially during Black History Month. The Academy continues to play a pivotal role in ushering in a new era in Country Music by truly supporting and lifting up those underrepresented in the industry.”
This inaugural program will initially be funded by the Black Music Action Coalition, the Academy of Country Music, and industry partners, and powered by social impact agency BreatheWithMe. The organizations are encouraging corporations and companies operating in Nashville and beyond to make a financial contribution to OnRamp as a means of powering their future equity and inclusion programs. OnRamp is one of many guaranteed income programs BMAC will be announcing throughout the year.
Playing an active role in guiding the OnRamp program and bringing it to life will be the members of the ACM LEVel Up: Lift Every Voice program’s 2022 cohort. ACM LEVel Up is a widely-heralded, Nashville-based professional development and enrichment program for rising leaders in Country Music, funded entirely by the Academy of Country Music at no cost to participants. The two-year curriculum is designed to empower participants to play a pivotal role in expanding the horizons of Country Music into new audiences that transcend demographics and geography. In December 2022, the Academy announced the program’s 2023 cohort, representing an entirely new and unduplicated list of organizations from the 2022 inaugural class.
Last June, Black Music Action Coalition released a report, Three Chords & The ACTUAL Truth, which documented opportunities for improvement in Black representation and participation in the Country Music space. The report called for Music Row, the city of Nashville and its companies, organizations and individuals committed to change and equity to partner with BMAC in a transformational program for Black artists in Nashville. The Academy of Country Music is amongst the first industry leaders to recognize and help facilitate necessary changes within the music community.
The Academy of Country Music has always proudly stood, throughout its almost 60-year history, as a progressive, welcoming organization for all, including an active, community-leading commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion stretching across all facets of the industry. In its mission statement, the Academy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative affirms a relentless commitment to creating a more inclusive environment for underrepresented groups, encompassing but not limited to, Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, LatinX and Women in the Country Music industry, from the boardroom to the stage.
For more information regarding the Black Music Action Coalition, please visit bmacoalition.org. For more information on the Academy of Country Music, please visit acmcountry.com. Further details about the ACM’s LEVel Up: Lift Every Voice program is available at acmcountry.com/levelup.
About Black Music Action Coalition
The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) endeavors to uphold and actualize the mission of Black Lives Matter in the music industry and reach racial justice not just across labels, publishers, agencies, distributors, and DSP’s but throughout society at large. BMAC works together with leaders from various business leaders to hold their companies accountable and implement a system of checks and balances to ensure change takes root. The group fosters and shepherds various educational, mental health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, policing, social justice, and political causes that directly impact Black communities.
About the Academy of Country Music Founded in Southern California in 1964 as a regional trade organization, the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC(ACM) has grown in the almost-60 years since into a leading association for the Country Music industry. Now headquartered in Nashville, TN and boasting record-high membership of more than 4,900 nationwide, the Academy serves as a powerhouse advocate for Country fans, artists, and all facets of the business, as well as a supporter of philanthropic work through charitable partner ACM LIFTING LIVES, dedicated to improving lives through the power of music and providing aid in times of need, with a focus on health initiatives. 2023 looks to be another monumental year for the Academy with the ACM Awards, the first major awards show to livestream exclusively, returning to Texas on May 11 and streaming live for a global audience on Prime Video. For more information, log onto ACMcountry.com or ACMLiftingLives.org.